C Major Scale For Guitar: TAB, Notation, Scale Patterns & Information

Your complete guide to playing the C major scale for guitar. On this page you’ll find C major guitar TAB, notation, and scale patterns / fretboard diagrams for electric, acoustic and classical guitar.

Page Index

Relevant Pages Elsewhere On Guitar Command

C Major Scale Guitar: Introduction

As with many things in guitar playing, there are several different ways of playing a C major scale on guitar.

Most notes on the guitar can be played in at least two places on the fretboard. For example, the C produced by playing the A string at the 3rd fret can also be played at the 8th fret of the bottom E string.

For this reason there is often more than one way of playing a particular scale on the guitar, and the C major scale is no exception.

On this page you'll find notation and TAB for playing one, two and three-octave C major scales using a variety of fingerings.

Beginners should start with the 1 octave open position C major scale before progressing to the other scales on the page.

You’ll also find a major scale pattern that can be used not only to play a C major scale, but also every other major scale, simply by moving the fretting hand to different fretboard positions.

Scale Playing Tips

When playing guitar scales, aim for an even tone and tempo. It is highly beneficial to practice scales with a metronome. Start slowly and only increase the tempo when you can play the scale smoothly, clearly and evenly.

1 Octave Open Position C Major Scale

1 octave C major scale guitar TAB showing the scale being played in open position. (Recommended left hand fingering has been provided.)

C Major Scale For Guitar TAB

Alternative 1 Octave C Major Scale TAB

An alternative way of playing a C major guitar scale is shown below. Note that although the notes of the scale are exactly the same as those above, several are being played at different frets.

1 Octave C Major Scale For Guitar 2nd Position

2 Octave C Major Scale Guitar TABs

The above scale can be extended into a 2 octave scale, as shown in the TAB below. You'll need to change the position of your fretting hand when you reach the top string in order to reach the highest notes of the scale.

2 Octave C Major Scale Guitar TAB 2nd Position

An alternative way of playing the same 2 octave C major scale for guitar is shown below. Using this method a position change isn’t required, although players of acoustic and classical guitars may find that playing this far up the fretboard may be slightly awkward.

2 Octave C Major Scale Guitar TAB 7th Position

3 Octave C Major Scale TAB

The 3 octave C major scale below is only really suitable for electric guitar, as the higher frets may not be accessible on acoustic /classical guitars.

3 Octave C Major Scale For Guitar TAB

C Major Scale For Guitar Scale Pattern

Below is a pattern for playing a C major scale starting at the 8th fret of the low E string.

C Major Guitar Scale Pattern

In the pattern above, the tonic notes of the scale are represented by green circles. The other notes of the scale are represented by black circles.

(The tonic notes of a scale are the ‘name’ notes of the scale, i.e. the ‘C’s in a C major scale, the ‘D’s in a D major scale, etc.)

Play a one-octave scale by starting from the lowest green note and stopping at the next green note. Play a two-octave scale by continuing to the highest green note, as shown in the TAB below.

2 Octave C Major Scale Using Pattern

2 Octave C Major Scale Guitar TAB 7th Position

(Note that this is the same as the TAB for the 2 octave scale shown further up the page.)

The beauty of movable scale shapes is that once you've learned one shape, you can move it to different fretboard positions in order to play other scales.

For example, by moving the above pattern 3 frets down (i.e. starting at the 5th fret of the bottom E string instead of the 8th fret), and keeping all the fingers in the same position relative to the new starting note, you’d be playing an A major scale.

Likewise, by playing the pattern 2 frets higher (i.e. starting at the 10th fret), you’d be playing a D major scale.

By learning just one pattern, you can quite literally play every major scale! However, most guitarists learn more than one shape for each scale so that they are not restricted to playing the scale at a particular position on the fretboard.

Notes In The C Major Scale

A C major scale, like all major scales, is heptatonic, which means that it contains seven notes before repeating again at the octave.

The notes in a C major scale are: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C (Octave)

Note that there are no sharps or flats in a C major scale.

C Major Scale For Guitar: Conclusion

We hope that you've found everything you need on this page in order to be able to play a 1, 2, or even 3-octave C major scale on your guitar.

If you have any questions on playing this scale then feel free to ask them in the comments section below; we’d be happy to help. We also welcome any comments or suggestions on how we can make this page even more helpful!

Check out the links below for more guitar information...

3 thoughts on “C Major Scale For Guitar: TAB, Notation, Scale Patterns & Information”

  1. Hi Guitar Major.

    Thanks for adding a comment, it’s good to hear you’re adding some new scales to your arsenal. C major scales contain the same notes as A natural minor scales (neither of them have any sharpened or flattened notes), however they’re not really the same scale – the different starting note gives each a very different sound. But it is good to learn the relationship between guitar scales.

  2. Thanks for the info. I started playing solos with just pentatonic scales, but now use a few major shapes too. A C major scale is essentially the same as Am.

    • Yes, as minor scale is a 6th chord in a major scale.
      C, d, e, F, G, a, B diminished.
      A Bm is D major:
      D, e, f, G, A, b, c diminished.
      You could also say that Am is A Eolian.


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